By Brandon Addeo | The Duquesne Duke
Spring break gives students an opportunity to rest and relax. However, this year, 65 Duquesne students and faculty members decided to spend their break helping others through Spiritan Campus Ministry’s Cross-Cultural Mission Experiences trips.
Participants traveled to six different locations across the United States to connect and work with diverse communities.
The missions were split into three different trips and four separate groups. The first trip, titled the Urban Plunge Experience, sent a group of students to Arlington, Virginia and Baltimore while another group was sent to Chicago and Dayton, Ohio.
The volunteers traveled to Spiritan churches and focused on learning about urban poverty and the hardships of impoverished communities, campus minister Kate Lecci said.
The second trip, the Appalachian Experience, sent a group to Mullens, West Virginia to build high tunnel greenhouses in a rural community and to learn about rural poverty.
The third trip, the Migrant Farmworker Experience, brought students to Immokalee, Florida to partner with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to learn about the living and working conditions in Florida tomato fields, according to Lecci.
Lecci said that while the service projects the groups completed were important, the service was a “secondary” objective.
“The goals of these trips are not necessarily to accomplish a task, but rather to go to a people and be with them, learn with them, walk beside them and share things with them,” Lecci said.
The Appalachian Experience and Migrant Farmworker Experience trips have been held every year since 1988, while the Urban Plunge trips were new this year, Lecci said.
A 30-day crowdfunding campaign generated a large amount of money for the trips. Using Duquesne’s new crowdfunding site, Aim, 113 donors gave the four trips a total of $6,124, exceeding the combined campaign goal of $4,000, according to a news release.
Aim was first launched on Jan. 20, with the trips being the first fundraising campaigns on the site, according to Patti Zappa, Duquesne’s assistant director of annual giving.
Zappa said Aim’s goal is to bring attention to fundraising projects within the Duquesne community.
“[Aim is] primarily a site for students, faculty and staff to fundraise for projects that typically don’t get a lot of attention,” Zappa said.
Lecci said the crowdfunding campaign helped with acquiring supplies for the various projects on the trips.
Participants also paid $100 prior to the trip to cover the cost of supplies, according to senior sociology and women and gender studies major Kate Hancock.
Students and staff on the trips created blogs and updated them with their day-to-day experiences.
Brianne Haneman, a junior occupational therapy major, said she chose to spend spring break on the Arlington/Baltimore trip to get “outside of [her] comfort zone.”
“Being so focused on studies, I find it easy to get lost in the routine of school,” Haneman said. “I want to take every opportunity I have to get outside of myself and do something meaningful.”